The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) requires Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices across the nation to provide an opportunity to register to vote to people applying for or renewing a driver license or identification card. This provision of the NVRA is the reason the NVRA became known as the Motor Voter law.
Each applicant for a California driver license or identification card (DL/ID) receives an NVRA voter preference form and a voter registration card. Applicants have the opportunity to register to vote or re-register to update their name, address, or political party affiliation.
People with good driving records may renew their driver license by mail. The DMV includes with every renewal by mail notice an NVRA voter preference form and a pre-addressed, postage-paid voter registration card, which may be mailed to the Secretary of State or dropped off at any county elections office.
When voters update their address with the DMV, the new address is sent electronically to county elections offices and voter registration records are updated automatically. If the address change was submitted as part of a license or ID renewal and the voter moved to a new county, California law requires the voter to re-register to vote. In this case, the DMV provides a new voter registration card and asks the voter to re-register to vote.
Like other agencies designated as voter registration agencies under the NVRA, the DMV tracks the number of people who decline to register to vote after given the opportunity. These voter preference records are kept on file at the DMV.
Under the NVRA, a person's name and the specific DMV office where a person chooses to register or declines to register is private and must be kept confidential. However, aggregate numbers of voter registrations and declinations from the DMV are reportable and a matter of public record.
The DMV sends monthly statistical reports to each county elections office with the total number of voter registrations and intra- and inter-county address changes received by the DMV for the county. The DMV sends a statewide report to the Secretary of State.